The 2022 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Thunder Bay, Ont., saw Kerry Galusha and company make the playoffs for the first time. No more close calls. No more heartbreak.
This year, there would be no repeat, but there isn’t total disappointment.
Galusha and her rink of Jo-Ann Rizzo, Sarah Koltun, Margot Flemming, Megan Koehler and coach Shona Barbour wrapped up the 2023 edition of the Canadian women’s curling championship in Kamloops, B.C., with a record of four wins and four losses in pool play. It wasn’t good enough to get them into the playoffs this year — there was an outside chance had the numbers all worked out — and they finished fourth, one spot shy of the playoff round.
“We had a chance, but we had to have (Rachel) Homan lose both of her last games and we had to win both of ours,” said Galusha.
Once Homan won her penultimate game over New Brunswick’s Andrea Kelly, 5-3, that was it.
“Even if we beat (Casey) Scheidegger, we weren’t going to make it in,” said Galusha.
The NWT ladies finished the opening round on Feb. 23 with a 9-6 win over Yukon’s Hailey Birnie.
Galusha said it was one of the best fields she had ever played in at the Scotties and she knew it would be a tough pool.
“The media were claiming it was the pool of death,” she said. “If you asked me before we started if I would be happy with fourth place in that pool, that would have been great. We were close all week long — there were some shots we wished we could have back, but that’s curling. That’s how the game rolls.”
The event began for the ladies on Feb. 18 with a 6-4 win over Kelly, a game which Galusha celebrated as the 150th competitive contest she had played all-time at the Scotties. Only seven other players have reached that milestone.
An 8-4 win over Homan in game two put the ladies atop their pool in the early going — Galusha said it couldn’t have started better.
“We felt we had a really good chance after we beat Homan,” she said. “The games against Northern Ontario (5-4) and Wild Card 1 (8-6) were tough losses. We knew we were right there with them.”
And so ends another eventful year for the team with appearances on the World Curling Tour, Grand Slam circuit and the inaugural PointsBet Invitational — seven events in total, one of the busiest years ever.
“To do as well as we did this year was great,” said Galusha. “We always find a way to battle and do well.”
One of the storylines all week in Kamloops revolved around whether this would be the swan song for Galusha as a competitive curler. She never said yes, but never said no, either.
She did say that the ladies still haven’t made a final decision on next season.
“We still have to talk about it as a team,” she said. “I just got home late Sunday, but we’ll talk about it and decide in a bit. I would love to keep our team together, if we can.”